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01-19-2010, 12:24 PM   #1
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Beginner Must Have's Anyone?

I am a complete newbie. I apologize for my ignorance in advance, lol! I have a K20D and the standard lens that came with it, the 18-55mm I think it's called. Anyway, I wanted to know what must-have's you all would suggest for me. I take lots of wildlife shots, outdoor family pics, and indoor banquet pics.

I have a small budget right now, but just give it to me straight........

I also kinda wondered what RAW was all about, if anyone has a link they could share with info on that?


01-19-2010, 12:34 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Maggie.
No need to apologise - we were all newbies once.
You can post your images for critique separately on the Photo Critique forum in future. You'll get more response there. The image posted here is a nice start for a silhouette. It's appealing in form but the colours are extremely oversaturated and as such makes the scene look more like an inferno than a warm and gentle sunset.

On RAW shooting, it's best if you read up on that subject as it is both a very useful and very powerful method of image capture. The fundamentals on it are that it is raw data recorded by the camera sensor translated into an image seen on screen within a smaller gamut of dynamic range and colour space than what is available on the RAW file. So the wider information within the native image file is available for use by the photographer typically to salvage highlight and shadow detail as well as preserve true colour rendition that would otherwise be lost if clipped on a JPEG capture. More detailed (and better explained) information is available here:

As for your 'must haves' there are none as such other than a camera and lens (both of which you have). Things that will enhance your experience and enable you to be more creative with your photography include a sturdy tripod for low-light landscape shots, a good quality P-TTL flash gun for better light control indoors and out, and a decent telephoto lens (probably start off with the illustrious consumer telezoom lens, the DA 55-300).

All the best in that.

Last edited by Ash; 01-19-2010 at 12:43 PM. Reason: additional info
01-19-2010, 12:39 PM   #3
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i am still cackling over the inferno! i can't spell cackle either i don't think!!! i had no idea you could get critiques! thanks so much for the info and the laugh, i needed that today!!

it does look like it's on fire now that i look closer at it!!HAHAHH! it's nice to meet you!

01-19-2010, 12:48 PM   #4
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the outdoor photographer site is awesome!! thank u!

01-19-2010, 01:09 PM   #5
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You're welcome.
Look forward to your future contributions here.
01-19-2010, 01:39 PM   #6
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For wildlife you eventually want a telephoto lens - one with focal lengths that go much higher than 55 (like up to 200, 300, oreven more if you have the $$$ and don't mind the size/weight). There are dozens of existing threads here and in the lens forum on telephoto lenses to help you decide.

For indoor low light, you may eventually want something with a larger maximum aperture (lower f-number than the f/4 or f/4.5 your 18-55 can muster in the middle of its range). Again, there are dozens of existing threads on the lenses available, so be sure to search/browse the forum first as lots of the questions that will undoubtledly occur to you as you begin your search for new lenses have already been answered here.

But for now, just shoot and learn for yourself what limitations you are seeing.
01-19-2010, 03:33 PM   #7
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Tripod is a must have.

01-19-2010, 03:58 PM   #8
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This is coming from someone who is quite new to photography, but will give my advice from what I have learnt.
I shoot mostly indoors in low light (houses bday parties ect) and have the following lenses
Pentax 50mm f1.4 - I use this lens all the time, and it is my staple. My best pictures have all come from this lens
Sigma 70-300 - bought this lens for taking photos of the family skating. The photos did not turn out great, but that was because of the conditions not the lens. It was very dark indoors, with everyone moving far away. To get a good photo I needed to crank the ISO (1600) and have a fast shutter speed for the aperture. (f5.6). Besides the one event with a bit of noise, the lens is great (for a beginner and its price)
auto chinon f1.9 manual lens - I use this for movies, as the manual controls I like while filming.
18-55mm lens - came with the camera, rarely use it anymore, but will most likely use it for taking pics when I head into the mountains (will have enough light to shoot and wont worry about f)
10-17mm fisheye - I love playing around and shooting with the lens for extreme wide angle shots. I do not have any post processing programs to correct the distortion, but once I have a decent program (any suggestions?) I will use this lens much more.
01-19-2010, 04:17 PM   #9
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Things to have right away:
  1. A camera bag to have control of your equipment when not in use.
  2. A strap to have control of your equipment when in use. This could be a neck strap, a hand grip/strap, or maybe a cross chest strap like the R-strap.
  3. Extra battery so that you can have one in the charger and one in the camera. I actually think three batteries is the better option, one in the charger, one in the bag, and one in the camera.
  4. Extra SD cards. I prefer the cheaper 8GB class 6 cards. There will be a lot of talk about reliability, speed, what brand, and how much to pay for them, so you'll have to find your own comfort to spending zone.
  5. A rocket blower to clean the sensor and to blow dust off your lenses
  6. Edit: A color balance tool. I really like these 18% grey micro cloths $7.50
  7. Edit: Software. This depends on what you are doing and what OS you are running, but for Windows based computers: Faststone would be my pick for browsing your photo files, for jpeg editing Photoscape, ShiftN, Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, for RAW files I would spend the money for Photoshop Elements. I usually pay $50 for Elements or so by buying at Costco. They usually have a coupon every few months for it. If you really don't want to spend the money then Rawtherapee would be my pick of the free tools. It is probably how I will go eventually for raw conversion. Lightroom is liked by many, I just don't want to spend the money.

Things to have soon:
  1. A list of lenses you will be interested in buying in the future.
  2. Now that you have a list of lenses, you'll know the filter sizes those lenses will take. You should have a CPL. You can buy a CPL for each lens size you'll need, or you can use step up rings to use larger size filters on smaller size lenses
  3. As step up rings and larger filters interfere with the lens hoods on the smaller lenses, you will need a replacement if you go this way. A folding rubber hood works well for this.

Things that are nice to have:
  1. Small Support, bean bag, small tripod, ultrapod, gorillapod, ...
  2. Edit: IR remote and wired remote. Pentax Remote F and a Ebay wired shutter release.
  3. A flash. This is a personal preference: I spent on a flash before I bought a tripod, but I did have a small support solution before buying the flash.
  4. Tripod
  5. Head for tripod and quick release system.

Thank you

Last edited by Russell-Evans; 01-21-2010 at 08:30 PM.
01-19-2010, 04:21 PM   #10
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You will need a faster lens for indoor shooting, but I would suggest something wider than 50mm. I find when shooting indoors it is generally easy to get closer to a subject with a wide(ish) lens, but sometimes not possible to get far enough away with a longer lens.
01-19-2010, 05:48 PM   #11
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I can do without tripods and flashes just fine. But the one thing necessary to experience the full range of photographic possibilities is a fast 50, as Duch suggested.

From there you can figure your next step. Just give it time.
01-19-2010, 07:32 PM   #12
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If you're on a budget, give serious consideration to manual focus lenses, such as the A-series lenses. the FA 50mm f/1.4 is a fantastic choice for a first prime lens, but it's also nearly $300 right now. On the other hand, A 50mm f/2 lenses are aplenty out there and can easily be found for $20 or so. They give you the advantage of aperture control through the camera body (just like your 18-55 lens), but does not give autofocus. The f/2 is considered "slow" for 50mm lenses, but fast for every other focal length. But don't let that fool you; an aperture of f/2 is just about as large as you'll want to use indoors or in low light because wider (or faster) apertures create too shallow a depth of field for you to reliably focus. And while the faster 50mm lenses are "better", the f/2 is a fine lens that gives you quality and all sort of flexibility and creative options without much dough.

I second the recommendation of a zoom in the 200mm-300mm range for wildlife work of any kind. But the DA 55-300mm zoom is over $300. If you're on a budget, consider the FA 100-300mm zoom for around $100. It's autofocus, and while not a "good" as the more expensive 55-300 option, it's underrated and a good choice for beginners. Also, you could choose the companion to your 18-55mm lens, the DA 50-200mm (about $100 -$150 used).

Be sure to check out the lens reviews section of the Forum. Welcome aboard and have fun!
01-19-2010, 07:39 PM   #13
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first thing i did was to get a pentax A 50 f1.7.
Fast, Auto Exposure, great IQ and cheap.
01-19-2010, 07:55 PM   #14
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When I jumped into the digital age it had been awhile since I had looked at the Pentax lens lineup and would have appreciated this info regarding the lens designations:
Pentax Lens Terminology
and compatibility:
The Pentax Camera Lens Compatibility Chart
and this forum:
Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - Main Index

Enjoy your Pentax and let's see those shots!
01-19-2010, 08:44 PM   #15
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Welcome Candace:

The essentials are:

1) common sense
2) patience
3) a sense of humor

With these, the rest comes naturally. BTW, I like the colors of the sun set/rise. I have seen some where the colors do look like what you have captured in this shot here. Hang on tight, this forum is awesome. Best!

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